Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ben's Latest Craze: Geronimo & Thea Stilton

Ben has recently been sucked into the strange mouse world of Geronimo Stilton.  I had never heard of this series before Ben discovered it at our local library, but it was started in 2000 by the Italian writer Edizioni Piemme, and has been published in English since 2004.

Geronimo is a mouse who lives on Mouse Island where he works as the editor of the Rodent Gazette, the island's most famous newspaper.  Along with his sister Thea, his nuisance of a cousin Trap, and his adorable nephew Benjamin, Geronimo finds himself traveling the world solving mysteries and always hot on the heels of his next big story.

Geronimo himself is an unlikely hero.  He prefers the quiet life and is quite frankly scared of most everything.  He faints at the thought of danger, has debilitating motion sickness, and isn't very inspiring.  He can tell a good mouse tale, but his reluctance to involve himself in the nitty-gritty is not all that exciting.  I suppose he is a good hero in the "we can all do our part" kind of way, and he teaches us to face our fears and that in a world of superheroes, you can still save the day even if you're scared to do it.  That being said, I find Geronimo a bit exhausting.  There are, however, upwards of 60 (!!) books in the Geronimo Stilton series, so I don't see my adventures with him ending anytime soon.

One of the really fun things about these books is the way the text is written.  This is lost on Ben who can't read by himself yet, but it does add to his visual interest in the books.  Many of the words on each page are written in different colors and fonts to add emphasis to the action.  I think this is something I would have found really engaging about the book as a young reader.

Then...Ben stumbled upon something else...a spin-off of the series that focuses on Geronimo's thrill-seeking independent sister, Thea - and five young female mice who call themselves the Thea Sisters.  These ladies might know everything there is to know about shopping and fashion, but more importantly, they are fearless.  They can travel anywhere, fix anything, and in general kick some series mouse butt!

Without expressing why, Ben has started gravitating toward the Thea Sisters books instead of the ones starring Geronimo.  The other night when we were reading about the girls' travels in Peru, he commented, "they don't faint like Geronimo, right?"  It was clear that he thinks they are pretty cool.  While I am not completely sold on a series about mice, I love that these female characters are written so boldly.  Of course they like to wear cute shoes and have their hair done right, but they can also be brave.  I appreciate that Ben is drawn to these characters, even if he can't quite articulate why.  Luckily, there are 20+ books in the Thea Sisters series for us to explore.

As with any popular book series, there is also a Geronimo animated series.  We have only seen a couple episodes, but already noticed that the TV Geronimo is a lot braver than his literary counterpart.

Ben is so enamored with Geronimo Stilton; he can't imagine that the rest of world isn't similarly taken.  The other day in the car we heard the song "Geronimo" by Sheppard.  Ben excitedly asked whether the song was about Geronimo Stilton.  I tried to tell him about the great Apache warrior Geronimo.  It didn't phase him.  He still thinks the world wants to rock out to a song about a mouse.

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